Did the witch of Endor really call up Samuel?

Did the witch of Endor really call up Samuel, and does this story prove that dead souls live outside of the body?

The Bible talks about how Saul obtained help from a witch to try to communicate with the spirit of Samuel. This particular event is used to support the belief that disembodied spirits remain alive after their body dies. Many people also believe the spirit or soul of the dead go immediately to heaven or hell. However, that’s not what the Bible says.

As we look at the events of Saul and the witch of Endor I see three possible scenarios.

1. The first scenario is that it was actually the spirit of Samuel that was raised up by the witch. This is the most popular understanding, but I think it has the most problems, and we will see why in a moment.

2. The second possibility is that the witch summoned a demon that pretended to be Samuel. This is quite possible since witches gain power through demons, and the Bible even says she had a “familiar spirit”, which most likely refers to a demon.

3. And the third possible scenario is that there was no spirit at all and the witch simply tricked Saul to get back at him for banishing the necromancers from the kingdom. Considering other things that are said in the Bible, I think this is also very likely, and we will look at those things as well.

Keep those three scenarios in mind as we look at the Scriptures that deal with these issues.

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